A former care worker is claiming for unlawful deduction of wages due to unpaid travel costs.
Caroline Barlow worked for MiHomecare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, for four months. She claims that during this time the company frequently paid her less than the National Minimum Wage as she did not receive any payment for the time she spent travelling between clients. She also received no payment for any overtime worked.
Ms. Barlow would attend between eight and 12 appointments a day at client homes across Devon. She says that it could take anything from 15 minutes to one and a half hours to travel from one job to another.
Because of the travel time her working day could be as long as 12 hours, but MiHomecare would only pay her for the 7.5 hours she spent with clients. When she divided her hourly rate of £7.68 across the actual time she spent at work, Ms. Barlow found that her pay fell below the National Minimum Wage rate of £6.50 per hour.
Ms. Barlow says that the travel between clients is an ‘integral and necessary’ part of the job and that MiHomecare should consider it working time and pay for it accordingly.
An Employment Tribunal will determine the outcome of the case in October.
How does the National Minimum Wage affect your business?
You have to take the National Minimum Wage into account when deciding how much you will pay your employees.
The National Minimum Wage is set at different rates for different categories of worker (see current rates), and must be paid by all employers regardless of their size. Any employer that pays less than the minimum wage risks civil or criminal sanctions from HMRC.
Employees can also claim for unlawful deduction of wages, as is the case between Ms. Barlow and MiHomecare.
The law requires employers to keep records of the time worked by employees and the amount of money paid to them. As well as fulfilling an administrative function, these records are essential to a company’s defence in a case relating to unlawful deduction from wages.
For employees who travel from client to client, we advise that you do not pay them for their journey from their home to their first place of work or for their journey from their last place of work back to home.
However you should pay your employees at their standard hourly rate for all work-related journeys that they undertake during working hours.